Paul Joseph Watson
|Paul Joseph Watson|
|Born||24 May 1982|
|Occupation||Writer, editor, YouTube personality|
|Also known as||PJW, Paul J. Watson, PropagandaMatrix (formerly), Anything Goes|
|Total views||456.8 million|
Updated: 1 July 2020
Paul Joseph Watson (born 24 May 1982) is a British right-wing YouTuber, radio host, writer and conspiracy theorist whose views have often been qualified as anti-feminist and politically extremist. Up until July 2016, Watson concurred with his alt-right label, but has since dropped the label and now self-identifies as being part of the new right. Despite the change, he is still understood to be a far-right individual by multiple sources. In May 2019, Facebook and Instagram permanently banned Watson for violation of hate speech policies.
Watson's career emerged through his work for conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones. As editor-at-large of Jones' website InfoWars, he helped promote fake news and advocated for 9/11, chemtrail and New World Order conspiracy theories. Subsequently, reaching a significant audience, both Watson and Jones altered their focus. Presently their commentary is mainly focused on criticizing feminism, Islam, and left-wing politics. Watson also contributes to InfoWars's talk radio program The Alex Jones Show, where he occasionally either hosts or co-hosts. Watson has been working on InfoWars since October 2002.
Since 2011, Watson has hosted his own YouTube channel, prisonplanetlive, from which he expresses his views on topics such as contemporary society, politics, and modern liberalism in an often mocking manner. He describes his channel as "Culture, controversy, contrarianism" and often lampoons celebrities and politicians. As of January 2020, his channel has over 1.78 million subscribers.
Watson described his formative moment as when, at the age of 18, he watched The Secret Rulers of the World, a documentary in which journalist Jon Ronson accompanied Alex Jones in infiltrating Bohemian Grove in California, a location where some conspiracy theorists believe that global elites plot the New World Order. He has described British conspiracy theorist David Icke, who he first read as a teenager, as the person who woke him up.
Watson, along with Jones and InfoWars as a whole, has shifted from mainly commenting on conspiracy theories such as chemtrails, the New World Order and the Illuminati, to increasingly commenting against feminism, Islam, and left-wing politics. Watson has been described as a member of "the new far-right" by The New York Times, which wrote in August 2017 that his "videos are straightforward nativist polemics, with a particular focus on Europe" and also noted his opposition to modernist architecture and modern art. Iman Abou Atta, the director of the anti-Islamophobia group Tell MAMA, has said that "Paul Joseph Watson has become 'the' nexus for anti-Muslim accounts that we have mapped... He has become an influencer in promoting information—much of it bizarre and untrue—which has been regurgitated by anti-Muslim and anti-migrant accounts time and time again."
Watson previously described himself as a "libertarian" and supported Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential election. In a 2016 tweet, he said he no longer considered himself a "libertarian" because Gary Johnson "made the term an embarrassment." Watson has also referred to himself as a "conservative" and he considers modern-day conservatism to be a countercultural movement. In a post on Facebook in November 2016, Watson differentiated between being a member of the New Right, which he considers to be distinct from the alt-right. He claimed that the alt-right "likes to fester in dark corners of subreddits and obsess about Jews, racial superiority and Adolf Hitler." He and Mike Cernovich have feuded with figures such as Richard B. Spencer and David Duke who see white nationalism as necessary for the alt-right.
Although he endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Watson declared in a tweet on 6 April 2017, he was "officially OFF the Trump train" following the president's decision to launch missile strikes on Syria in response to a gas attack several days earlier, believing Trump had reneged on his promise to not intervene in Syria. He said the president was "just another deep state/Neo-con puppet". After a decrease in Twitter followers occurred, he denied he had "turned on Trump," saying he was only "off the Trump train in terms of Syria" and blamed the media for "fake news". He declared in a separate tweet he would shift his focus on ensuring French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front would be elected in the 2017 election, in which she was ultimately defeated. Donald Trump Jr. retweeted Watson's reference to French celebrities leaving France if Le Pen was elected and referred dismissively to similar reputed claims in the US before Trump Sr. was elected.
In the media
In 2016, he was an early proponent of the health allegations that Hillary Clinton suffers from numerous serious medical conditions, although he was unable to provide any evidence. Watson's part in the manufacture and dissemination of the rumour was taken up by the National Enquirer and mentioned in the mainstream media as part of a discussion of the role of rumour and conspiracy theory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In February 2017, he tweeted an offer to pay for a journalist to visit Sweden and stay in the "crime ridden migrant suburbs" of Malmö, if they think it would be safe. Many journalists took him up on the offer, and Watson chose New York journalist and videographer Tim Pool, who was already planning a similar investigation. Watson provided US$2,000 to Pool for the trip. Tim Pool also ran a fundraiser to fund an investigation into other 'no-go zones' in other areas of Sweden and Europe.
At a White House press briefing in November 2018, persistent questioning of President Trump led to an intern attempting to take a microphone from the hand of CNN's Jim Acosta. Acosta's White House press credentials were subsequently revoked, allegedly for having "put his hands" on the intern. Watson uploaded an edited version of the original footage in support of this claim. In this version, zoom and frame rate changes create the misleading impression that Acosta had behaved aggressively towards the intern.
Watson confirmed that he had applied a zoom and denied making any other alterations, though expert analysis confirmed that "the clip repeats several frames that do not appear in the original footage" and that it had been speeded up. The video has generally been described as 'doctored', though some experts concluded that the changes do not necessarily represent deliberate manipulation but could be the result of artefacts resulting from accidental degradation during processing. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to the video that Watson posted as clearly documenting Acosta's "inappropriate behaviour." The White House was criticised for sharing a doctored video and thereby spreading "actual fake news" rather than using the original footage. A subsequent court ruling found that the action against Acosta was unconstitutional on due process grounds.
On 2 May 2019, Watson and several other people considered to be extremists, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as well as Jones and right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, were permanently banned from Facebook, which called them "dangerous." "We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," a Facebook spokesperson said. "The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today." Watson stated on Twitter that he had broken "none of their rules" and complained of "an authoritarian society controlled by a handful of Silicon Valley giants" in which "all dissent must be purged." President Trump retweeted Watson, mocking the "dangerous" epithet.
Watson is anti-immigration. He has claimed that "Malmö is known as 'Sweden's Chicago'" due to mass immigration into Nordic countries. According to Salon magazine, the claim is false[clarification needed][globalize], an assessment which is supported by a study published in Critical Studies in Media Communication.
Watson is anti-Islam. He has labelled Muslim culture as "horrific" and declared that it produces mass rape, "Islamic ghettos" and the destruction of Western culture. Watson has said that the western world needs "Islam control" rather than gun control. Watson wrote in an InfoWars article that "Muslims living in both the Middle East and the west show alarmingly high levels of support for violent jihad." He stated that there is "violent oppression of gays and Christians in the Middle East". In August 2017, he said that YouTube had blocked monetisation on all his videos about Islam, as part of the website's policies dealing with hate speech, and on other subjects including modern art.
Race and ethnicity
Watson has criticised perceived racial tokenism. In 2017, he criticised the BBC for "portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse", after the broadcaster included a black Roman centurion in an educational cartoon. His assertions were contradicted by Mary Beard and Cambridge's Faculty of Classics, citing "overwhelming" evidence that Roman Britain was a "multi ethnic society," but noting that this would have been more noticeable in a military or urban setting than a rural one and the "significant gaps" in historians' understanding of the topic.
Watson said he "got kicked out of school for smoking weed, being drunk half of the time & then I barely went after that."
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British conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson
- Townsend, Mark (11 February 2017). "Britain's extremist bloggers helping the 'alt-right' go global, report finds". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
London-based Paul Watson, described as "editor, staff writer" for the conspiracy website InfoWars ... is named as a central disseminator of the conspiracy theory concerning Hillary Clinton having debilitating health issues ... During a series of unashamedly conspiratorial videos that were viewed millions of times, Watson, originally from Sheffield, suggested Clinton might have had syphilis, brain damage and Parkinson's disease as well as alleging she was a drug abuser.
- Weigel, David (28 August 2016). "The alt-right's take on Clinton's speech: Botched, but legitimizing". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
For the alt-right and its allies ... the speech helped elevate a fringe. In videos, Jones and his colleagues at InfoWars portrayed her as a sickly, doddering figure of desperation. ... InfoWars contributor Paul Joseph Watson...
- "Alt-right editor challenges journalists to visit Sweden". BBC News. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
Paul Joseph Watson, the UK-based editor of far-right conspiracy website InfoWars
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- Wilson, Jason (24 May 2017). "How rightwing pundits are reacting to the Manchester attack". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
Paul Joseph Watson, Alex Jones's British mini-me, has followed the same broad path that the rest of the organization has. He was never on the left, of course, but over time his commentary has focused less and less on the Illuminati and chemtrails, and more and more on pushing a stridently anti-Muslim, anti-feminist and anti-left message.
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- Bowden, George (20 February 2017). "Paul Joseph Watson's Twitter Offer For Journalist Trip To Sweden Spectacularly Backfires". Huffington Post.
- Bowden, George (21 February 2017). "Paul Joseph Watson Comes Good On Twitter Offer To 'Investigate Malmo, Sweden, Crimes'". Huffington Post.
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- Harwell, Drew (8 November 2018). "VIDEO: White House shares doctored video to support punishment of journalist Jim Acosta". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2018 – via Duluth News Tribune.
- Hefner, Josh (8 November 2018). "White House shares edited video to justify revoking press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta". Retrieved 17 December 2018.
- Ismail, Aymann (8 November 2018). "The White House's Acosta Video Looks Different From the Original. Does That Mean It's "Doctored"?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
- Rogers, Kaleigh; Koebler, Jason (8 November 2018). "Expert Says: No Evidence the White House Video of Jim Acosta Was Doctored". Motherboard. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
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- Sorensen, Martin Selsoe (24 February 2017). "Sweden, Nation of Open Arms, Debates Implications of Immigration". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
- "The Live-Streamers Who Are Challenging Traditional Journalism". The New Yorker. 11 December 2017.
- Leah, Rachel (1 March 2017) "InfoWars sponsors a journalist's trip to Malmö, Sweden, but he finds little evidence of a Muslim crime wave" Salon
- Mulinari, Leandro Schclarek (2017) "Contesting Sweden's Chicago: why journalists dispute the crime image of Malmö", Critical Studies in Media Communication, v.34 n.3, pp. 206–219, doi:10.1080/15295036.2017.1309056
- "Kanye West celebrated by right-wing conspiracy theorists over recent comments". MediaWorks New Zealand. 24 April 2018.
- Lemon, Jason (25 June 2018). "Alt-Right Linked Social Media Activists Welcomed As Members of Britain's UKIP". Newsweek. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- "Mosque-attack suspect read conspiracy site InfoWars prior to London rampage: Prosecutors". The Washington Times. 24 January 2018.
- "Even a top far-right conspiracy theorist says Trump's retweets of fringe British anti-Muslim videos are 'bad optics'". Business Insider. 29 November 2019.
- Griffin, Andrew (11 August 2017). "YouTube stars that supported Donald Trump claim site is taking away their money and they'll quit". The Independent. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
- "Alt-right commentator gets 'schooled' by historian over diversity in Roman Britain". The Daily Telegraph. 27 July 2017.
- "Faculty of Classics backs Mary Beard after Roman Britain diversity debate". Varsity (Cambridge). 7 August 2017.
- Worswick, Marie-Elise (7 November 2016). "Paul Joseph Watson interview: Meet the alt-right Brit dominating YouTube". University of Sheffield. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
- Watson, Paul Joseph (31 March 2018). "Full disclosure: I was a weirdo grunge kid who got kicked out of school for smoking weed, being drunk half of the time & then I barely went after that. There's your exclusive". Twitter. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
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